Friday, October 23, 2015

Sneak Peak - THE MERMAID MURDERS

I'm starting a four-day green juice cleanse/detox this morning, and I always feel horrible at first during this process, so I'm going to be rather scarce for a few days. I'm still trying to catch up to where I was before I left for Scotland, but my focus is just not there--one of the things I hope juicing will help with--and I find myself postless this morning.

So I'll leave you with a Sneak Peek of next year's first book (something I forgot to mention last week when I was touching on upcoming projects).

This is from The Mermaid Murders, scheduled for a February 1st 2016 release. I'm going to do something a bit different with preorders this time, so at the moment TMM can only be purchased through Smashwords (that will obviously change!)

Smashwords.


BLURB:
Special Agent Jason West is seconded from the FBI Art Crime Team to temporarily partner with disgraced, legendary “manhunter” Sam Kennedy when it appears that Kennedy’s most famous case, the capture and conviction of a serial killer known as The Huntsman, may actually have been a disastrous failure.

 
The Huntsman is still out there…and the killing has begun again.
 
EXCERPT:
Summer heat shimmered off the blacktop.
In that shivery, humid light, the big, blond man casually leaning against the silver government-issue sedan—and checking his watch—looked a little like a mirage. But no such luck. Special Agent Sam Kennedy was not a trick of the light.
Kennedy looked up, spotted Jason, and grimaced. Maybe it was supposed to be a smile. Probably not, given Kennedy’s reputation.
“Special Agent West,” Kennedy said. His voice was deep, and he spoke with a suggestion of a drawl. “I thought maybe you stopped off to see if you could solve the Gardner Museum heist on your way over here.”
Funny guy, Kennedy. Special Agent in Charge Carl Manning had already warned Jason that Kennedy was not thrilled to be partnered again, let alone partnered with an agent seconded from the Art Crime Team. But that’s what happened when you screwed up your last high-profile investigation to such an extent the governor of Wisconsin denounced you on the nightly news. An agent with less seniority would have been “on the beach” for the foreseeable future, but Kennedy was a legend in the Bureau. One of the great “manhunters.” His career would survive, but he was under a cloud, no question. His kind of success earned enemies—and not just from the usual suspects. A successful career wasn’t just about closing cases—and Kennedy didn’t strike Jason as the tactful type.
“Nice to meet you too,” Jason said, reaching the car. Kennedy did not offer his hand, so Jason shoved his own in his pocket. “Just to be clear, I’m supposed to be on vacation. In fact, I busted my ass to get here. I was at Boston Airport about to catch a flight home to L.A.
“Duly noted.” Kennedy turned away, going around to the driver’s side of the gleaming sedan. “You can throw your bag in the trunk.” He reached in and popped the trunk hood.
Jason opened the trunk and slung his brown leather carryall next to Kennedy’s black Tumi. That was some serious luggage. The luggage of someone who lived out of his suitcase. Primetime TV notwithstanding, it was rare for agents in the Behavioral Analysis Units to leave Quantico and travel around the country, but Kennedy was the exception that proved the rule.
“We need to hit the road. That girl’s been missing over eight hours already.” Kennedy threw that comment over his shoulder, before sliding in behind the wheel.
Jason started to answer, but restrained himself. SAC Manning had clued him in to a few facts about his new—temporary—partner. And, ostensibly, this urgency to get to the crime scene out in rural Kingsfield was all part of what made Kennedy so good at his job—not to mention the reason they were meeting in a diner parking lot instead of the division office at One Center Plaza.
He slammed shut the trunk, walked around to the passenger side and climbed in. The car was still cool with air-conditioning, so Kennedy hadn’t been waiting long.
Kennedy turned the key in the ignition. More cold air blasted out along with news radio. “So you know the area? Your family used to have a vacation home in Kingsfield?”
“That’s right.”
“How nice.” Kennedy’s tone was more like Oh brother. He wore too much aftershave. The fragrance as aggressive as everything else about him. Top note sandalwood, bottom note obnoxious.
“I guess so.”
Kennedy threw him a sardonic look as they exited the parking lot. Or at least the twist of his mouth was sardonic. The dark Oakleys he wore concealed his eyes. He was not handsome, but he had the kind of face you didn’t forget easily. Although Jason was going to try his best the minute this case was over.
Jason said, “Clarify something for me. The Kingsfield Police Chief asked specifically for you because he thinks he might have a copycat killer on his hands?”
“It’s too soon to say, but yeah. That’s the concern, of course. No girl is going to go missing in Worcester County ever again that people aren’t going to fear it’s some kind of copycat crime.” Kennedy began to bring Jason up to date on the case.
It was a swift and concise summation, but then the facts were few. Rebecca Madigan, the teenage daughter of wealthy local residents, had disappeared Saturday night while hosting a party for friends. Rebecca’s parents were out of town, so her boyfriend had reported the girl missing. A search had been organized, but so far there was no sign of Rebecca.
“There could be a lot of reasons a teenage girl disappears,” Jason pointed out.
“Yep. But like I said, the folks of Worcester County have long memories.”
Jason stared out the window at the slideshow of skyscrapers and historic buildings. Parks, playgrounds…ponds. The dazzle of bright sunlight on green water. He removed his sunglasses, passed a hand across his eyes, and replaced the shades.
Worcester was an old city with a modern attitude. It was only about twenty-four miles from Kingsfield, not much more than a forty-five-minute drive, but it could have been a different planet.
He said, “I remember the original case. You were behind the capture and conviction of Martin Pink.”
“I played a role.” Kennedy was displaying unexpected—and undue—modesty. There was no question the Kingsfield Killings had stopped due to Kennedy’s efforts, which was no doubt why the police chief had been so quick to call him in this time. It was a little surprising the Bureau hadn’t waited to see how things developed in the Madigan case, but maybe this was as much about putting Kennedy on ice as finding a missing girl. That was certainly the way it had sounded to Jason when SAC Manning had asked him to cancel his vacation.
“What kind of a party was it?” Jason asked.
“What do you mean?”
“It’s June. Was it a graduation party? Birthday party? Sweet sixteen? Secret baby shower?”
Kennedy’s laugh was without humor. “It was the kind of party you throw when your parents are out of town for the weekend.”
“Was everybody invited or was it private?”
“We don’t have the details yet. You know everything I know.”
Yeah, probably not. Kennedy was one of these lone-wolf types who no doubt “preferred to play his own hand” or whatever bullshit macho phrase he’d use to excuse not being a team player. It made for good TV, but in real-life law enforcement, not being a team player was how people got hurt.
Sometimes you got hurt even when everyone was playing for the same team. Jason’s shoulder twinged, and he rubbed it absently.
 
There was a large heart-shaped sign by the side of the road on the outskirts of town. The sign read IN OUR HEARTS FOREVER Honey Corrigan June 15th 1998.
The sign had not been there the last time Jason had driven this road. But it was probably familiar to Kennedy. He’d probably passed it a hundred times that long ago summer.
Neither of them spoke, and a couple of minutes later they were out of the green woodland and into the shady streets of the picturesque and rustic village of Kingsfield. It was classic New England. Pretty and quaint. Clapboard houses surrounded by wide lawns or gardens of old roses, renovated nineteenth century commercial buildings of red and yellow brick, war memorials—that would be the Revolutionary War—white churches with tall steeples, all artfully positioned around the large and lush village green. Nothing like California, that was for sure. But then that had been the point of spending summers here.
“Just like you remember?” Kennedy’s voice jarred Jason out of his thoughts.
“Doesn’t seem to have changed much.”
And that was the truth. They passed Beaky’s Tavern. Bow windows and a hanging, hand-painted sign featuring a bewigged gentleman with a nose like a hood ornament.
“When was the last time you were back?”
“Years.” His parents had sold their vacation home right after Honey had disappeared, and Jason had not been back since. He was not going to share that information with Kennedy, even if Kennedy had been listening.
Which he wasn’t. His attention was on the information his GPS was providing in crisp, mechanical tones. His big hands moved with easy assurance on the steering wheel, his gaze raked the pretty little shops and cafes.
The police station was located in the center of the village, housed in the former Town Hall building. It was a two-story structure of faded brick complete with a clock tower—including a rooster weather vane—and gray columns supporting the front portico. The arched windows had a nice view of the Quaboag River, a blue shadow in the distance.
Jason and Kennedy parked in the rear beneath a row of maple trees.
“I’d expect to see a lot more cars here,” Jason said, studying the nearly empty lot.
“They’re out searching,” Kennedy replied.
His tone was neutral, but yes. Of course. The problem was it had been a long time since Jason had worked a violent crime. Or at least since he’d worked a crime where there was an expectation of violence. People were always unpredictable. Especially when they felt cornered.
He walked beside Kennedy around the building. The air was hot and humid, scented of warm stone and daylilies. Kennedy didn’t say a word from the parking lot to the front portico. Not a chatty guy.
They went in through the old wood-frame glass doors. A matronly-looking officer was busy answering the phones. She barely glanced at their IDs, indicating with a nod of her head that they should proceed down the dark-paneled hallway—all the while calmly answering the caller on the other end of the line.
An incident room had been set up on the main floor. It was abandoned but for one lone deputy who was erasing something on the large whiteboard. Jason’s heart sank as he recognized Boyd Boxner. It had been a long time, but Boyd hadn’t changed all that much. Square shoulders, square jaw, square head. Well, his head wasn’t square, but his towheaded crew cut gave that impression.
“Special Agent Kennedy,” Kennedy offered his ID again. “This is Special Agent West.”
“We’ve been waiting for you,” Boxner said. He glanced at Jason without recognition—suits and shades provided excellent camouflage—and that was fine with Jason. “Chief Gervase is directing the search for Rebecca. He asked me to escort you to the search site.”
“Fine. Let’s get moving,” Kennedy said.
Jason said, “You don’t think we should maybe head over to the girl’s house? Take a look around. See if there’s a reason she might have walked away voluntarily?”
Kennedy stared at him as though he’d forgotten Jason was present. He’d removed his sunglasses. His eyes were blue. Arctic blue. A hard and unforgiving color. He turned back to Boxner. “We’ll start with the search site.”
Okay. That could have been handled with a little professional courtesy. But fair enough. Kennedy was the senior on this investigation. Jason was just riding shotgun. This was not his field of expertise. By the same token, he wasn’t there just to fill a second suit.
He said, matching Kennedy’s blank face and tone, “Do they need us to join the search? They’ll have plenty of volunteers. Maybe we could be of more use taking a look at the case from a different angle.”
Kennedy stared at him for a long, silent moment. It was not a friendly look. Nor the look of someone considering another viewpoint.
“You want me to leave you two to work it out?” Boxner was looking at Jason more closely now.
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to have a word with my colleague,” Kennedy said with ominous calm.
“I’ll bring the car around.” Boxner was clearly in no doubt as to who would win this round. The old floorboards squeaked as he departed.
Kennedy didn’t say a word until Boxner had vanished down the hall. He turned to Jason.
“Okay, pretty boy. Let’s get something straight.” His tone was cold and clipped. “We both know your role here is to run interference between me and everybody else. All you need to do is stay out of my way and smooth the feathers when needed. And in return you’ll be the guy who gets to pose in front of the cameras with Chief Gervase. Fair enough?”
“The hell,” Jason said. “I’ve been asked to try and make sure you don’t step in it again, sure, but I’m not here to hold your cape and deerstalker, Sherlock. I’m your partner on this case whether either of us likes it or not. And, for the record, I don’t like it—any more than you do.”
“Then make it easy on both of us,” Kennedy said. “You stay out of my murder investigation, and I’ll let you know if I hear about any paintings getting stolen.”
He didn’t wait for Jason’s answer. He turned and followed Boxner down the hallway.
 
 
 

33 comments:

  1. Oh holy moly! Such a tease. I cannot wait. This looks GOOD!

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    1. Frankly, it's a lot more fun writing characters who DON'T get along. ;-D

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  2. Can't wait to read this one. Sounds good.

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  3. Awesome!! When I read one of your excerpts, I'm always caught between anticipation of a new book and whining that I can't keep turning the pages NOW! :-D

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  4. What a great sneak peak — I already love the dynamics between these two guys. Can't wait to see what kind of mangel you're going to put them through... because even the very start is... ahem... tense. ;-) Deliciously tense, that is. :-)

    By the way, I love your new header photo. So tranquil and inviting.

    Enjoy the effects of juicing. Focus on how amazingly GOOD you're going to feel when you're done with it (or far enough into it). You can do eeet!

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    1. Thank you, dear Johanna. :-)

      Right now I have a blinding headache, but otherwise I do feel pretty good.

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  5. Ahhh...I love the tension! ...and yes, what Dianne said. After reading the excerpt, I want to read it now. *whine* Reading this also made me wonder how many of these, 'started but not yet finished,' stories you have patiently waiting in your very talented mind? Wondering how you decide which one to take up next? Wondering the what and why of the next story to whisper in your ear? I am intrigued. :)

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    1. Files and files. But too many of them are too much like other things I've written, so I have to either leave them or maybe cannibalize parts for other stories.

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  6. Oh, boy. I keep hoping Kennedy takes a swing at "pretty boy."

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    1. LOL

      Well, pretty boy is a bit out of his element on this one.

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    1. Guess who the book's dedicated to? ;-D

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  8. What a wonderful surprise! Now I'm looking forward to February. I don't like serial murders but I love reading about them.

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    1. Thank you, Susanne. It's the same for me. I don't like committing them, but I like writing them. ;-)

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  9. Completely unrelated to TMM, I always mean to mention how much I enjoy the images you choose for this blog, but I never do. This time I will. I love the new picture. It's perfect. :)

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    1. Thank you! I love picking the photos--this one has such a lovely, peaceful feeling. It perfectly captures sunlight on an autumn afternoon, I think.

      It's by Inzel and licensed through Shutterstock

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  10. The anticipation begins... Happy detoxing!

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    1. Thank you. It is hell. That is all. ;-D

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  11. I'm always torn about reading the excerpts: I need my fix, but it's never enough.
    Needless to say, can't wait.

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  12. Love the excerpt and looking forward to reading TMM next year.

    Is this quote talking about the Kingsfield Killings or another case Kennedy flubbed up? I'm easily confused today, and thought they were in Wisconsin. "But that’s what happened when you screwed up your last high-profile investigation to such an extent the governor of Wisconsin denounced you on the nightly news."

    I too love the banner. Happy detoxing...well, I've never happily detoxed before, but if anyone can do it, you can Josh! May the force be with you. :D

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    1. The quote refers to the case in Wisconsin. :-)

      They are in Massachusetts.

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  13. Darn it, I keep forgetting to sign my name.

    Enjoy your weekend, Josh dear.
    --Judy S

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  14. I'm so looking forward to this! 2 new books coming out so close together. Question, though - I bought a preorder of this weeks ago for my Nook on Barnes and Noble. Should I not have been able to do that?

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    1. Oh? Hm. Maybe I originally listed it as preorder for B&N through Smashwords. If you paid for it, you'll receive it, don't worry! :-)

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  15. I also love the photo on the blog page, very peaceful & wish I was there right now reading "The Mermaid Murders"...how fun to have it available at Smashwords 1st, I buy many books there becuz of all the formats they provide, so a Big THANK-YOU for that.
    As always, looking for to TMM! I do love those special agents :)
    RDAFAN7

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    1. Yes! Even the sunshine looks sleepy, lazy. You could fall asleep reading or you could wander along that path.

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  16. Cute excerpt - just one comment. Nobody says "Boston Airport"...ever! It's Logan.

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    1. Under no circumstances ever? Like even people on the news or from out of state or the airport itself?

      http://boston-bos.worldairportguides.com/

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    2. No, everyone calls it Logan. If you say "Boston Airport" people will look at you funny. It would be like calling JFK "New York Airport." The closest anyone might say, specifically if they were on the news and had to be exact, would be "Boston Logan," and that mouthful is only for "formal speak."

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